Question posted in the Landlord Tenant Law category relating to Gauteng
I recently moved out of a rented property after having a horrible time with the landlord. Besides many things In March 2020 at the start of the pandemic due to no maintenance over 4/5 years the oven broke. We we left without one and when I contacted him he just said as always that he does not have money. A few months went by and I received some horrible bills from COJ - I ask the landlord to assist as I was sure that there was something wrong on the billing. This was in August 2020 - he never came back to me and just ignored my request. I kept paying the same amounts more or less but could not keep up with the bill. We started looking for a new place and I had a long chat with one of the agents who was kind enough to look at some things. One of the things that came up was that he was making me pay the full COJ accounts with rates and tax included he also bullied me with paperwork and made me pay levies to the complex. In 5/6 years he did nothing in the house and now that we left he came back to me more than a month later with a R20 000 COJ bill and maintenance that he is unhappy about. This was merely a few walls that needed paint even though I painted 3 rooms out and left the remaining paint there for him. This was the first time that the house was ever painted inside in the years we lived there. This is an attorney though and a really bullish man that has now threatened me with this bill after months of asking him to help me as the amount were getting out of hand. To top it all off we only had one contract that we signed in 2016 with a few addendums up until 2019. We never missed a single payment on the rent and even tried keeping up with the COJ accounts. He is simply saying the full accounts were my responsibility and even after me asking for him to assist when something was wrong he just shoots it off or stop replying to those mails and starts a new mail. I made all my payments with EASYPAY using his name and my number as reference and I am trying to get all the references from EASYPAY but is it not a good system so it has been quite the mission. I gave him notice and left my deposit and left the house on the 1st of March - I gave him the keys on the 4th as I had to leave it at someone in the complex as he always avoided me. There has been no inspection - not when we moved in or when we moved out as well. We did as much as we could in the 5/6 years to maintain the place up to a point were we even considered painting it outside as it was starting to look really bad. Besides the oven delay, unless he could claim insurance for the carpets we had to move my son's room due to the smell from the roof leaking in his room. He left that for 2 year and eventually when the roof nearly came down and the walls started maulding he claimed and had it fixed. In the years we were renting this house we had to fix everything and pay all things which was not part of our responsibility however he bullied us into it as he knew we had no other place to go.
Information Requested by Lawyer
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
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Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question? I will come back to you shortly!
In the interim, what outcome do you envision at this point based on what you've said above?
Answer to the Question
You said that the landlord "was making you pay the full COJ accounts with rates and tax included", and also that you had to pay the "levies to the complex" --> Was that agreed in your lease agreement?
I assume that you had a written lease agreement?
I also assume that when you say "addendums" to the lease, that those addendums really just renewed the lease each year and then increased the rental for the next year? Am I right?
What was the agreement about what you needed to pay for rental? Was it a fixed amount each month, or a fixed amount plus the utilities?
Was it a term of the lease agreement that you needed to paint all of the walls? If not, he can't make you paint the walls now when you leave.
If there was no incoming inspection of the property, then he can't hold an outgoing inspection. Tell him that this is what the Rental Housing Act says. If he wants an outgoing inspection, then he is supposed to ensure that an incoming inspection is done first. Otherwise how do you record what the damages are?
Normally, a tenant is supposed to maintain a rented place. e.g. fixing door handles, locks, light switches, etc.
BUT, things like a leaking roof, or painting the outside of the house, normally fall outside of this obligation. The landlord is supposed to do that.
Answer to the Question
I think that the good thing is that (since you have moved out, and since you've given up your deposit) you can simply tell him to leave you alone and tell him that you know your rights, and that if he has any dispute, he must refer it to the Housing Rental Tribunal who will listen to the complaint and make a ruling.
They can sort this whole thing out. And if he tries to sue you in the magistrates court, you must defend the claim (don't be scared) and you must ask that the dispute be referred to the Housing Rental Tribunal.
Information provided by client
Thank you for this
Our lease agreement signed in 2016 reads "Account number ######## PIN CODE #### for sanitation rates and refuse second line is Electricity and water #####.
The addendums where only up until March 2019. Thereafter everything expired. He claims he never got a lease back from me but at an old company that I worked for he sent a driver to collect the two signed copies to be signed by him - never got the contract back and he said he never received it though his driver collected it.
The rent was a fixed amount and in the 2016 - 2019 period I was never told to pay levies he only told me that I must now pay levies in early 2019 so I did so we don't loose the place.
There was no incoming inspection in fact from 2016 to 2021 he never set foot in the house.
We painted all the rooms when we lef. The only places that he is complaining about was when ADT took the keypad of and when they removed network cables - in the process they broken some of the part of the alarm so there is a massive problem between me and them. Under the keypad was obviously not painted as it was removed long after the paint and done on the 1st of March 2021 when we were already out.
Answer to the Question
It sounds to me as if the landlord doesn't really have a case.
Maybe what you do is to offer him R300 for somebody to paint under the keypad which was removed and polyfiller the space. Or something like that.